Pedro Amaral is a German Studies student in the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENES). In Summer 2022, with the support of the CENES German Program, he participated in the Weimar Bauhaus Summer School in Weimar, Germany. CENES Department Head Dr. David Gramling spoke with Pedro about his current academic pursuits, his time in Weimar, and his hopes for the future.
Where are you from?
Brazil! I moved to Vancouver before university with my family. I want to stay here.
How was your time studying abroad at Weimar?
Oh, I loved Weimar. It’s so small, the size of a small city, like UBC. It’s very old, [and has] all these museums and culture. I had chances to make friends around, at church and elsewhere. These two communities — university and church — were important to me. I was glad to see friendships between Catholics and Protestants. For example, I went to an ecumenical prayer meeting a couple of times at a Protestant church in a place called Ettersburg, near Weimar.
You were doing archival work there — did you feel you got to know these people you studied well in that process?
There was a series of women in this collection, and I was reading their letters and proofreading the transcriptions. There was one, Amalie Struve, the wife of this revolutionary, and they had to be exiled to England. I learned about her, how much she missed Germany and didn’t have any German newspapers to read. And Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, from another project I helped with, her husband had this idea of founding a colony in Paraguay, and they convinced something like 14 families to go with them. It was a farmers’ colony, and she stayed there for a few years and then returned to Germany to take care of her brother’s mental illness. The first generation of children in this colony didn’t have any schooling, and the colony was started 135 years ago and there’s still people there!
The traditional study abroad experience is different — it sounds like you had a very practical experience, with a particular job to do.
Yes, in the beginning, the professor gave me some letters to read and learn how to read the handwriting. You have to be proactive and ask for more stuff to do, and new tasks always come up! There was a lot of freedom in terms of the schedule, but I worked on three different projects, with a lot of benefits for each! I worked at the library and the archive.
You sound like an intellectual! What’s that like in 2022?
I’m always listening to lectures online, and I enjoy learning languages and reading books. There’s a lot of good stuff to read! I also benefit a lot from discussions with friends.
What happens next for you?
I’m taking classes in January again, but I like the idea of working with translation. I’m arranging with Prof. Paulus from Weimar to continue working at his Varnhagen Collection project doing some translations. The team has some texts that they want to put on their website.